Study Notes

Numbers 5:1-8:26

5:1-4 Send The Unclean Out Of The Camp

The Lord commands that all who are unclean be sent away from the camp. Why? Verse 3 says, "so they will not defile the camp where I dwell in their midst."

Uncleanness has a way of spreading. Not just leprosy, which was contagious, but any sort of immorality or compromise. When you are around the unclean, they don't get clean, you get unclean and defiled.

Paul the apostle told the church at Corinth,

1Cor. 5:9-11 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one.

The Lord's desire was that the camp be holy - just as is His desire for the church.

5:5-10 Confession And Restitution

So much of the Bible talks about sin. That God hates it, that we commit it, and that we need to confess it. All sin is against God. David, when he had sinned with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed to cover his sin, David prayed,

Ps. 51:3-4 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge.

Although his sin was against Bathsheba and Uriah, David knew that his sin was truly against God. God has commanded us to confess our sins to Him, that we can receive mercy and forgiveness. John writes,

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But there is a side to sin that we must also be aware of. Just because we confess our sins to God does not suddenly make the person we've sinned against alright with us. We must also seek their forgiveness and repair the damage we have done.

As a matter of fact, the Lord here tells us that restitution is to be 120% of whatever loss you have caused.

Say for example that you borrowed your neighbor's lawnmower and ran it over a rock. The blade is broken, the body is cracked, the bag is torn, the engine is blown. It's pretty obvious that you should replace his lawnmower. But while you're at Sutherland's picking him up a new Toro, buy your neighbor a new set of garden tools too! Any anger he has over you ruining his lawnmower will be dispelled when he sees that you've added 20% to make restitution.

But what if your neighbor has since moved away? What if you've sinned against folks that you've lost track of? No problem - the Lord says, "Give it to the priest." If you ripped someone off for a hundred bucks, restitution is made when you give $120 to the church.

5:11-31 The Spirit Of Jealousy

The spirit of jealousy. Many in the church today would rebuke the spirit - "Spirit of Jealousy, I bind you in the name of Jesus! Be gone from that man!" But is this in fact an evil spirit named jealousy? No. Although evil spirits do exist they are never referred to in the Bible as a spirit of this or that.

"But," you may think, "I've know I've read about a spirit of fear." Yes, you have, and it is just like the spirit of jealousy that we've been reading about here in Numbers 5.

You see, in the Bible, the word "spirit" applies to three things: the Holy Spirit, evil spirits, and OUR spirit. And we do occasionally find the Bible using the expression, "spirit of..." this or that, but it is never in the context of evil spirits. Timothy, for example, was a young pastor that struggled with intimidation and inferiority. He was shy and had trouble asserting himself. Paul wrote to him,

2Tim. 1:6-8 And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God

This spirit of timidity or fear was not a demonic spirit, but in fact Timothy's spirit. Now, the spirit that God gave Timoth NOT a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline - and that is exactly Paul's point. "Look, Timothy, if you do this in your own power, you'll have a spirit of timidity. But if you do it in God's power, you'll have a spirit of power and love and discipline."

We also read Paul's exhortation to the Romans regarding the spirit which God gave them. He said,

Rom. 8:14-15 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

So again, the "spirit of slavery" or the "spirit of fear" do not refer to evil spirits, but rather an encouragement that the spirit which God gave us is not these things. So, the spirit of jealousy means that the husband becomes jealous in his spirit.

Holy Water

The text also mentions that the priest is to use holy water. And you've got to wonder where they got it - there weren't ANY Catholic churches for miles!

In reality, this is the ONE verse of the Bible that mentions holy water. The Hebrew scholars who translated the Old Testament into Greek, which was called the Septuagint, translated this expression, "pure running water." It is also possible that they simply used the water from the bronze laver, which was holy - it was sanctified for the use of God's tabernacle.

Law Of Jealousy

Here we read of the law of jealousy. If a man began to suspect that his wife had been unfaithful, then he would take her to the priest, and he would mix holy water and dust from the floor of the tabernacle in an earthen vessel. She was to swear an oath of innocence before the Lord, and then drink the water. If she was innocent, she would be fine, but if she was guilty, then her abdomen would swell, and her thigh would waste away.

It has been suggested that this ritual worked because of the woman's psychosomatic reaction to her guilt or innocence. But I personally believe that God has no trouble making someone's abdomen swell or her thigh waste away if He wants their guilt to be discovered.

(6:1-21) The Law Of The Nazirite

Here we read of the Nazirite vow. This was a special vow that a man or woman made to dedicate themselves to the Lord. The Nazirite vow was one of no compromise - not only did they abstain from alcohol, but also vinegar and grape juice... even grapes and raisins! They also were neither to cut their hair during the time of their vow, nor get near a dead person. After the number of days that the person had vowed themselves to the Lord, they would offer the sacrifices, then shave his head.

The Nazirite vow was made by Paul the apostle, as we read in Acts 18,

Acts 18:18 ...In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.

And we also read of four men in Acts 21 who had taken a Nazirite vow. Wanting the Jews to know that Paul had not forsaken Judaism and the Law of God, the elders in Jerusalem, headed up by James, said that Jews who were zealous for the law...

Acts 21:21-24 ...have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. What, then, is {to be done} ? They will certainly hear that you have come. Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.

But clearly the most famous Nazirite of all was Samson. The angel of the Lord commanded,

Judg. 13:7 "...the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death."

Of course, we know that Samson was not very good at keeping his Nazirite vow. He came into contact with many dead bodies - he killed thousands of men in his lifetime.

6:22-27 The Benediction

In Deuteronomy 8, we also read,

Deut. 10:8 At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day.

They were to bless in His name. When the priests invoked the name of God on the people, God blessed the people. Speaking blessings is so important for priests of God to do for the people of God. God has promised a supernatural blessing upon His people when the priests are faithful to speak this benediction to His people.

7:1-9 A Gift Of Carts And Oxen

We talked last week about the Levites carrying the parts of the tabernacle through the wilderness. I'm sure that as soon as they heard this, they started praying for provision! "Lord, send a U-Haul! These sockets of silver weigh 75 pounds each!"

As we are so fond of saying, "Where God's guiding, God's providing." When He gave them the command to carry, He had not yet told them how they would manage to do this. Now, His provision comes through - carts and oxen are donated by the leaders of each of the tribes!

You know, when God tells you to do something, it's best to assume that He's going to take care of the details and provision. Paul reminded the Philippians,

Phil. 4:19 ...My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

What kind of treasury is He pulling this provision from? An unlimited one! If you're faithful to obey, He'll certainly be faithful to provide.

(7:10-88) The Dedication Offerings For The Altar

These verses detail the offerings for the dedication of the altar. They list each of the twelve leaders: the man's name, his father, his tribe, and each offering he brings.

7:89 He Heard The Voice

Moses hears God's voice speaking to him from between the cherubim, above the mercy seat. This is where you will hear from God as well.

Remember that the mercy seat was a representation of God's throne. If you're looking to hear from God, let me share these verse with you:

Ps. 22:3 Yet Thou art holy, O Thou who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.

God is enthroned upon the praises of His people. If you want to hear from God, be someone who praises Him.

Rev. 4:9-11 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."

At the throne of God, there is the worship of God. If you want to hear from God, be someone who deeply worships Him.

Hebr. 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

If you want to hear from God, do not be condemned by your sin - simply confess your sin. He understands the temptations you've suffered - and He wants you to approach His throne of grace with confidence.

8:1-4 The Lampstand

Moses had to be in the tabernacle to hear the voice of God coming from above the mercy seat. This would certainly be most frightening in the dark.

But the lampstand gave light in the tabernacle. Instead of dark and ominous, it was warm and friendly. This is a picture of Jesus for us. Remember that He is the light of life, the light of the world. Without His light, entering into God's presence would a dark and foreboding experience. But because of His light illuminating the tabernacle, we can enter in and feel warmth and familiarity.

(8:5-22) The Cleansing And Presentation Of The Levites

These verses describe the cleansing and presentation of the Levites. Those who were serving in the tabernacle ministry had to be cleansed and presented. So too, with those who would desire to serve God in the church - their sin must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. They must be presenting their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.

8:23-26 The Older Training The Younger

At 25 years old, the Levites began to be trained for the work in the tabernacle. They would begin serving at the age of 30, and their retirement age was 50 years old.

Although the 50-year-olds could no longer work, they could assist and instruct the 25 to 30 crowd in their duties.

The older training the younger - this is God's ideal for ministry.

Paul told Titus in Titus 2 that He wanted the older women...

Titus 2:3-5 ...teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.

The older instructing the younger. How blessed it would be if the church functioned in this way! Older Christian men who have served in ministry instruction and discipling the younger men in the ways and service of God. We would never need a single seminary or Bible school if every church was faithful to do this.

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